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Abstract

A geological map of the eastern Hindu Kush, northwest of Chitral, Northern Pakistan, is presented. The lithologies are placed into two main categories, divided by the Tirich Mir Fault Zone. To the northwest, the units of the eastern Hindu Kush are dominated by monotonous sequences of graphite-rich pelitic rocks. Southeast of the fault, the phyllites and diamictites are thought to be lateral equivalents of the Northern Sedimentary Belt of the Karakoram. A structural analysis of the area studied identifies a major, early deformation phase which is usually characterized by tight to isoclinal folding with a well developed axial-planar schistosity. This deformation is thought to have been related to the northward-directed subduction and accretion beneath the southern margin of Asia during the Mesozoic, and may have taken place over a considerable period of time. A major phase of crustal melting at c. 24 Ma generated migmatites and biotite + muscovite ± garnet ± tourmaline leucogranites (including dykes and the Gharam Chasma pluton). This age is comparable to that of the Baltoro pluton in the Karakoram to the east, confirming the regional importance of crustal melting along the southern margin of the Asian plate during the earliest Miocene. The crustal melting was associated with thrusting and folding of the earlier schistosity. Subhorizontal stretching lineations indicate a phase of strike-slip deformation that is thought to have been associated with anticlockwise rotation of the regional foliation strike from E to NE and N after the emplacement of the Gharam Chasma pluton at c. 24 Ma. This deformation and rotation was probably a direct result of the northward-moving Indian plate forcing Kohistan to indent into Asia, resulting in a left-lateral transpressional tectonic environment which remains today. The anomalous height of the Tirich Mir massif, relative to other peaks in the Hindu Kush and the nearby Hindu Raj, may be accounted for by the onset of this transpression.

Intensely active seismicity to depths of 300 km beneath the Hindu Kush is associated with seismic shear wave velocities that are significantly faster than those beneath Tibet, where earthquake occurrence is restricted to the upper crust, and previous geophysical studies indicate elevated thermal conditions and possible crustal melts. U-Pb ages suggest that post-India-Asia collision crustal melting beneath the Hindu Kush is restricted to c. 24 Ma, whereas in the Karakoram, the record is both more voluminous and more continuous from c. 37 to c. 9 Ma. These observations reflect major differences in the thermal histories of these regions, where the relatively cooler conditions beneath the Hindu Kush are associated with continental subduction-related seismicity.

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